Frail neighbour struggles with Stoneyhill landfill gas gun

Seagulls and crows scavenge waste from the Stoneyhill landfill site.
Seagulls and crows scavenge waste from the Stoneyhill landfill site.

A man who lives in a house bordering the Stoneyhill landfill site has blasted operators Sita UK for their use of a noisey bird scaring device.

Andrew Buchan (67) remains partially paralysed after suffering a stroke last year and says the sound of the device has been so loud it has caused him to fall down.

The recycling and waste management company is obliged to discourage birds from scavenging as part of its permit to operate the site south-west of Peterhead.

Propane gas-powered guns, commonly used by farmers, are used to generate noise loud enough to frighten scavenging gulls and crows.

The sound is supposed to replicate a shotgun blast and levels near devices of this kind, which are moved around the landfill site, can reach up to 150 decibels. That is louder than an ambulance siren or fireworks.

Mr Buchan told us: “The stroke made my hearing very sensitive. We’ve had to buy double glazing but I still feel the noise.

“The sound is so loud, it’s like a broadside from a battleship.”

Mr Buchan believes explosive rockets are used but has had no official confirmation.

A spokesman for Sita UK stressed that propane gas guns are a secondary measure and that a falconer is employed on site.

He said these are the only two methods used.

The spokesman said: “When you run a landfill site obviously you’re tipping waste. You don’t want birds scavenging, flying off with waste and dropping it into neighbouring land.

“Falconery is the method we use first and foremost. That’s pretty silent.

“As a secondary method we do use noise. That tends to be a gas gun which is common amongst local farmers.

“We’re aware it can cause people nuisance and our go-to measure is the falcons.”

The site received a noise complaint on July 30 but it was traced to sounds from a nearby farm.

When contacted on behalf of Mr Buchan by the Buchan Observer, Peterhead South & Cruden councillor Stephen Smith said: “Clearly, this must be very distressing for the gentleman concerned and I would urge SITA to consider how best they can minimise the effects of the gas guns.

“Best practice suggests SITA need to keep the bird nuisance to a minimum, which it seems they are doing, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of upsetting the human population.”